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8-Bit Theater is a Sprite Comic by Brian Clevinger that ran from 2001 through 2010. Its plot, an Affectionate Parody of the original Final Fantasy, follows the four Light Warriors (who really aren't the best for the job): Fighter McWarrior, an astoundingly stupid sword-obsessed warrior with rare good ideas; Black Mage Evilwizardington, an Ax Crazy sociopath who is only saved from being a Complete Monster by the Rule of Funny and a tendency to get hurt; Thief, a fugitive prince of elf clan Khee'bler armed with extreme greed and an expertise in manipulative contracts; and Red Mage Statscowski, a strategist who considers life to be a tabletop game, is obsessed with his stats, and also was tricked into liking cross dressing.
Humor comes mostly from the violent nature of the protagonists, the absurd situations they find themselves in, and screwing around with videogame tropes (mainly RPG tropes, but others do come into play). It is one of the original Sprite Comics, having started the year after Bob and George and long since outstripping in terms of popularity (at least partly because the latter comic ended in 2007).
It defined the dysfunctional party dynamic that would go on to fill every single other fantasy webcomic that came after it.
After nine years, two fake endings and 1,224 strips, the comic finally ended; after that last comic, Clevinger took a few weeks and wrote up a long epilogue which was drawn by Matt Speroni of How I Killed Your Master. Barring another Clevinger surprise, that should be the end of things.
This work is the Trope Namer for:
This work includes examples of the following tropes:
- Aborted Arc: Played with by the author to help create the Anticlimax. Each Light Warrior has an avatar or Eldritch Abomination trying to prepare them each for their large and important destinies. However, eventually they all just get fed up and leave, unable to take all the insanity and stupidity, and none of them are ever mentioned again and don't have anything to do with how the story resolves.
- Achievements in Ignorance: Both Fighter and Black Belt can break the laws of physics simply through being too stupid to understand them. Fighter blocks the ground to prevent falling damage, since he can "block anything."
- Black Belt has No Sense of Direction to the point where he can literally warp space-time.
- Accidental Innuendo: Red Mage is a MACHINE at this.
- Affably Evil:
- Garland, he's certainly more affable than evil.
- Also, Chaos.
- For that matter, Black Mage on those occasions he's not consumed with omnicidal rage. He's been known to discuss super hero deathmatches with Red Mage.
- A God Am I: Sarda for most of his appearances, and later Black Mage and Red Mage.
- All Just a Dream: One of two fake endings.
- All There in the Manual: Red Mage's last name "Statscowski" has only been mentioned in forum posts by the author, never in the comic itself.
- Ally Tossing Charge: Judging by the looks of Black Mage and Fighter, Thief did this after spotting the golden chocobo in this strip.
- Alternative Character Interpretation: In-Universe, of Lex Luthor, strangely enough.
- Amusing Injuries: Black Mage stabbing his comrades, usually in the head.
- And the Adventure Continues...: While Red Mage and Thief decide to go do other things, Fighter and Black Mage continue adventuring because they honestly have nothing else to do.
- Anger Makes You Dumb: Black Mage's intelligence is inversely proportional to one of two things: how close he is to White Mage, or how angry he is. When neither of those two factors are in play, he's the most intelligent of the group (except perhaps for Thief). Anger seems to obliterate all his ability to think rationally. This is really a problem because he has a Hair-Trigger Temper.
- Angrish: A Running Gag, primarily with Black Mage although others have fallen victim to it. It's usually caused by something Fighter says or does.
- Also one strip later,
Black Mage: Arghble!
Black Mage: Wait one damn second. Could you have done that at any time?
- After Black Belt climbs across a rope he was holding himself:
Black Mage: How..you..here..what?
- Red Mage has one, too:
Fighter: Don't you understand? With gravity slain, we can now fly! * flies*
Black Mage: Astos"? Mo' like, "Yo ass is toast!
- The defeat of Chaos is even worse. He gets killed offscreen (not even a good distance away, just barely offscreen) by one character who had been missing for a while and three characters who had NEVER SHOWN UP BEFORE THAT POINT. Note that this was done to resolve a Brick Joke that had been set up NINE YEARS PRIOR.
- Apocalyptic Log: Parodied twice.
- Arc Number: Four. Since the original Final Fantasy had 4 Light Warriors, Fiends, and orbs/crystals, the comic plays on this by adding 4 Dark Warriors, 4 "Other Warriors", 4 "true" Light Warriors - making a total of 4 warrior groups(well, five now that the "all White Mages" team has been introduced) - and 4 patron avatars. Also, the average strip is 4 rows.
- Armchair Psychology: Used by Fighter at a rather inappropriate moment.
- Army of Lawyers: Thief's Law-Ninjas.
- Arson, Murder, and Admiration
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "I traveled a thousand miles away from anything like civilization, moved into the innards of an unpredictable volcano, set up dozens of pitfalls, hell, I even put up a sign!"
Fighter: ...After we brutally murdered her son, banished her husband to hell, and tore up her driveway.
- Artifact Title: Originally, the comic was to have consisted of a rotating series of sprite comics based on various NES-era games, hence the title 8-Bit Theater. As it turned out, the Final Fantasy comic was the only one that ended up actually getting made.
- Not exactly, if I recall correctly, he created one other he used as filler.
- Art Shift: Happens multiple times over the course of the series, often for one panel gags: Thief sneak attacking an orc, Black Mage laughing at Thief when he thinks he's escaped his contracts forever, Black Mage experiencing the Goblin Punch, and Sarda Mind Raping the Dark Warriors. Also done to show how crazy hot White Mage is.
- Also, the entirety of the epilogue.
- Ascended Extra: Sarda had a very minor role in the original game (he give you a key item). His role is expanded in the comic.
- Ascended Meme: When a particular bit of Insane Troll Logic took off like a rocket in the Eight Bit Theater forums, the author decided to honor it in-comic with the only character suited for the job.
- Atomic F-Bomb: Black Mage
- Authority in Name Only: King Steve.
- A Wizard Did It: Specifically, Sarda, the nearly omniscient, almost omnipotent Wizard Who Did It who's secretly responsible for setting the events of practically the entire strip into motion.
- Played straight in strip 108
- Aw, Look — They Really Do Love Each Other: The Dark Warriors (wrongly) assumed this when they found Light Warriors sharing the bed. They were so moved by what they saw that they couldn't bring themselves to kill the sleeping Light Warriors.
- Back From the Dead: All four Light Warriors — and all four Fiends.
- Backstory: Red Mage spent two strips discussing how important it is for a character to have a backstory.
- Badass: Fighter can block the ground.
- Badass Arm-Fold: Due to the way the sprites look, Thief after his class change and Sarda can look like they have this.
- Badass Boast: Fighter delivered one in this strip. In a subversion, instead of boasting about his own achievements, he praised Black Mage... who wasn't happy about this.
- Fighter does make his own boast later on:
Fighter:Also, I can block any attack and kill anything that bleeds.
- Black Mage himself once wanted to deliver a Badass Boast that would double as a pick-up line... but what he came up with was this:
Black Mage: I AM THE BLACK MAGE! I CASTS THE SPELLS THAT MAKES THE PEOPLES FALL DOWN!
- Garland's attempt at giving a Boast (or rather reading out loud one prepared for him by Evil Princess Sara) failed miserably when Forest Imps stole the scroll with the text of the Boast... thus forcing Garland to improvise.
- That quote is also a Shout-Out to the original game, as that line was lifted directly from Garland's actual dialogue.
- Far later, Sarda gives one:
- Chaos delivers one, too.
Chaos: "I am the yawning chasm from before the before; the darkness after the end of all things. I am nothing and no thing is eternal."
- Bait and Switch Boss: Chaos replacing Sarda.
- Ballistic Discount: Black mage tries the magical equivalent of this when he runs into a No Hero Discount at the ultimate magic shop. Unfortunately...
Black mage: What I learned today is that really old wizards don't get that way by being easy to kill.
- Batman Gambit: Sarda has been secretly making the Light Warriors stronger so that he could show them how insignificant they are when their upgrades fail to save them from his wrath. This was all in retribution for having his younger self irreversibly and unbelievably traumatized by Black Mage multiple times. And also because the other Light Warriors did nothing to stop him from doing it.
- Battle Aura: Black Mage, after absorbing the evil of the fiends. Later, he lost it after destroying the Temple of Fiends. Then Sarda got it.
- Black Mage again after he absorbed the evil of HIMSELF. (It Makes Sense in Context)
- Battle Discretion Shot: Used many times, with the action (usually Fighter beating up a villain or Black Mage beating up a bystander) shown offpanel for comic effect, and taken to its ultimately absurd conclusion in the Final Battle with Chaos.
- Beat Panel
- Beleaguered Assistant: Both Princess Sara and Left-Hand Man Gary to King Steve.
- Best Served Cold: Sarda has literally lived for billions of years to set in motion his Evil Plan to strengthen the Light Warriors so that he could kill them all at the height of their power, just to rub their insignificance in their collective face. Best served cold indeed. Though as the Cosmic Plaything example indicates, he probably did not intend to have no choice but to wait that long.
- Beware the Nice Ones: White Mage, Fighter, and at one point, Garland.
- Big Bad: Sarda.
- Bigger Bad: Chaos
- Big Damn Heroes: Black Mage, Red Mage, and Dragoon each killed one of the four Fiends from out of nowhere.
- Big Damn Villains: Black Mage can generally be relied upon to throw immensely destructive magic at a life-threatening problem. ... with the side-effect that he's not very accurate and has very limited understanding of the word "subtlety". In short: the protagonists have probably reaped a higher death toll than the antagonists. Although this doesn't make moments like this any less awesome.
- Bizarrchitecture: The "new" Temple of Fiends. Also parodied by Black Belt when he gets lost in the chaos architecture, even though the path is a straight line.
- Black and Gray Morality: The protagonists are three sadistic bloodthirsty killers (plus a Token Good Teammate who's just too stupid to notice his comrades are Ax Crazy)... but the Big Bad manages to be worse! The only "hero"(ine) per se mostly falls under Good Is Impotent, but wins in the end because of a nine year-old Brick Joke.
- Evil Versus Evil: In a world where the "heroes" are worse than the villains (except Sarda and Chaos) and singlehandledly responsible for most of the world's suffering; the people in charge of things are insane, megalomaniacal, or both; and any attempts to bring any sort of peace or happiness seem to fail by default, the only thing preventing Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy is seeing just how over the top the Black Comedy gets.
- Black Comedy Rape: Poor Red Mage. Followed by poor monster exposed to Red Mage's "Animal Husbandry.
- Black Mage Killed The Dinosaurs: So it seems.
Fighter: Where's that thing going?
- Blackmail: One of the 999 ways that Thief manages to rip people off.
- Blah Blah Blah
- Bloody Hilarious: Oh yeah.
- Body Horror: BM's face is of non-Euclidean geometry.
- Bond One-Liner: Black Mage in this comic.
Thief: I don't think he heard you, BM.
- Book Ends: Fighter and Black Mage are alone together, lost. Fighter ends the entire series on a Brick Joke:
Fighter: Y'know what we should do?
- Boring but Practical: Feather Fall spells. Red Mage and Black Mage learn this the hard way.
- Brain Bleach: In-world: "I would settle for the power to stab out my mind's eye."
- Break the Cutie: White Mage and Onion Kid, to an INSANE degree.
- Brick Joke: "Hm? Oh, I stole it.From the future."
- A much more obscure example: In a very early episode, Brian mentions that Alabama is hell. 350 strips later...
- Quite possibly one of the longest ever is set up as a throwaway gag in the first few panels of the 10th strip only to come back almost 9 years and 1,200 strips later.
- An even longer setup: Remember that Nintendo Power magazine Black Mage was reading during strip 7? Neither did anyone else (beware, there be spoilers ahead).
- Remember when Black Mage slaughtered a senile old wizard at a retirement home? 731 strips later it, apparently, turns out he's not the only one who uses Square Summoning Circles
- Remember King Steve's ridiculous plans to drill for mana that always ended in ruin? Check out the article in the bottom right of the newspaper article in this comic.
- Here's the longest setup in the entire comic: Armor of Invincibility. Mentioned in the very first strip, only to come back in the comic's very last panel.
- Another one from the epilogue: In the first panel, we see that messenger that King Steve ordered to be killed, still being pursued by the guard.
- In the same panel we can also see an old man in the blue robe. And Jeff.
- The Epilogue's is full of them.
- Not to mention the small joke here about harsh language. And how did they defeat Astos...?
- Brought Down to Normal: Sarda eventually decides to take away the Light Warriors' class changes, and revert them all the way back to level 1 as well. Except for Thief, who's past self stole his class change from his future self somehow.
- Also Black Mage when he commands the Leigons of Hell.
- Brown Note: Listening to any of the Light Warriors speak for any length of time can be hazardous to your health. Fighter regularly makes listeners too stupid to think (including the omnipotent Sarda), but Red Mage is almost as bad, talking with Thief for any amount of time will likely end with you having no money, and Black Mage once came out with an insult so awesome (or perhaps so lame) it killed a man.
- But for Me It Was Tuesday: "Oh, we've ruined millions of lives. They're just being babies about it."
- But He Sounds Handsome: More than once, actually: Black Mage, Garland and Fighter do this while in disguise.
- Butt Monkey: Almost everyone. More specifically:
- Black Mage, though he really deserves it.
Black Mage: Does the universe exist only to rob me of any joy? It'd be nice to have confirmation on that.
- Fighter is frequently insulted and assaulted by Black Mage (but he can take it).
- Red Mage had his skeleton removed from his body and was later turned into a one-eyed monster (he got better).
- Thief was mauled by Berserker, had all his accumulated treasure smashed, was torched by Bahamut, and was shaken to oblivion by Muffin. And he stole his class change from himself in the future, just before Sarda got to the final part of his revenge.
- White Mage can only watch in sorrow as the Light Warriors slaughter innocents, each other, and generally ignore their "responsibility" as heroes, and that's on top of her best friend dying.
- Onion Kid's main purpose is to go through various torments that usually relate to Black Mage. And become Sarda. Then get possessed by Chaos.
- Garland went through this briefly before he founded the Dark Warriors.
- The "real" Light Warriors. Every bad thing imaginable happens to them. Even when they catch a break, it usually ends up backfiring.
- Barry, the only member of the group whose name we know, gets the worst of it.
- The Caligula: King Steve, the psychotic, bloodthirsty, retarded ruler of Corneria.
- He was drilling for mana. You can't drill for mana. YOU CAN'T DRILL FOR MANA!
- Turns out, you can.
- He was drilling for mana. You can't drill for mana. YOU CAN'T DRILL FOR MANA!
"I hate this ridiculous fantasy setting."
- Not to mention that his right hand man is a coffee stain named Rodney.
- The Dwarf King is also rather monstrous. In order to shorten the amount of paperwork the bodies of the giant monsters that Black Mage slays will bring, he has the coastal reserve murdered in front of their families and blames the event on the elves.
- Not to mention that his right hand man is a coffee stain named Rodney.
- Cain and Abel: Black Mage murdered his own brother via an uneven room laced with knives and tiger pits.
Red Mage: Wait. You murdered your own blind brother?
- Call Back: "All I can tell you is that, yes, the whole point of this comic was to do this comic much later. I didn't intend for it to be nine years later, but around year five or so it occurred to me it had already gone from being a long range call back to probably the longest ranged call back attempted by a webcomic." - Brian Clevinger, explaining the appropriately-titled strip "Longest Set Up in Webcomic History".
- Came Back Wrong: White Mage's attempt to revive Black Belt ended horribly.
- Can't Catch Up: You know how the Fiends eventually come back more powerful than ever. Remember how it was really difficult to kill the Fiends the first time around? Remember how the other Light Warriors are constantly mocking Black Mage's cowardice, ineffectiveness and large amount of bodily harm? Maybe they shouldn't have done that.
- Captain Ersatz: Minor character The Sulk, cameo characters Arachna-Dude, Alloyed-Guy and The Mediocre Four.
- Card-Carrying Villain: Excessively, especially with the Dark Warriors.
- Casual Danger Dialog: While this is normally the Light Warriors' schtick (comic-wide spoilers!), hugely subverted with the eventual revelation that while they were ignoring Chaos and arguing amongst each other about cake, White Mage and three other healers destroyed Chaos, off-panel.
- Caught with Your Pants Down
- Characterization Marches On: Drizz'l was initially portrayed as stupider than Garland, but has since become a Straight Man for the sake of the Dark Warriors having at least one.
- Chekhov's Armoury: And HOW! Have a look around this page for examples.
- Chekhov's Gun: 'Longest Set Up In Webcomic History'. In comic 7, there's a throwaway joke when Black Mage is reading a strategy guide. "Four White Mages? It'll never work!" In the end, Chaos is killed by White Mage, Shaman, Priest, and Healer.
- Chekhov's Gunman: The Onion Kid is just a Cosmic Plaything who's there for laughs, right? DEAD. WRONG.
- Cherry Tapping: The first attack to hit Sarda? Bikke throwing the Water Orb at him. It didn't do much, but it was the only time anyone (besides himself) was able to do anything to him.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Remember Queen Jane?
- Comedy as a Weapon: Black Mage kills Astos using bad puns.
- Compensating for Something: After hearing Dr Malpractice making Accidental Innuendo Black Mage, Red Mage and Fighter briefly wondered whether this trope applies to them.
- Comically Missing the Point : Among other examples - "Man, she must like me a LOT!"
- Conflict Killer: Happens again...and again...and again during the end game.
- Connect the Deaths: When Light Warriors rampaged through Dwarves' kingdom, Thief took the opportunity to spell out a message to Dwarves (the intended recipients didn't realize that, though).
- Continuity Nod: All over the place in the Where Are They Now? Epilogue. Elite Guard Hank is still chasing the messenger. The Dark Warriors' Restaurant contains the heads of the werewolves encountered by the Light Warriors early on in the comics run, as well as one of Garland's motivational posters, Dr. Malpractice, the fake prince, Princess Sara, Left Hand Man Gary and the Sulk. The menus in the restaurant have options like Twelve Dragon Nachos, Goblin Punch, Rat Tail Soup, Orbs of Water and foods named after the Four Fiends. Some law ninja are visible outside of Thief's palace. Akbar is still in business in whatever town we see Fighter and Black Mage in. He also appears to be selling Cloud's Buster Sword -and- Squall's gunblade. Also in the town are the legitimate businessman and his lackey, and a cultist. Fighter is equipped with his regular swords and some swordchucks named Stabby and Slashy. Finally, the entire series ends with a reference to the Armor of Invincibility.
- Conversational Troping: About the Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny - Black Mage and Red Mage discussed who would win in a fight between Batman and Dr Doom, as well as in a fight between Green Arrow and Bullseye. Several hypothetical matches were also discussed in the column "Twinkin' Out with Red Mage".
- Cool but Stupid: Every character except Fighter is aware of how stupid an idea sword-chucks are. They work perfectly anyway, thanks to White Mage making it slightly less dangerous.
- Cool Sword: In Fighter's opinion, every sword is cool.
- Cosmic Plaything: Black Mage, White Mage, and just about everyone else in the comic, at the hands of the nigh-omnipotent Sarda. In turn, Sarda is himself a victim of it thanks to the Light Warriors, in a wonderful example of Time Travel inspired recursive causality.
- Cosmic Retcon: Sarda does this a few times to Black Mage, using his magic to alter Black Mage's protests into acceptance.
- In addition to that Sarda once did a Rewrite on a much bigger scale, supposedly by accident.
- When Black Mage tries to do the same thing, the end result is causing Sarda to add "you moron" onto what he was originally saying.
- Considering that Sarda personalizes his spells, the spell Black Mage cast was likely "Rewrite Reality According to Sarda's Wishes".
- Crapsack World
- Crash Into Hello: This is how Black Mage met both Fighter and White Mage.
- Crazy Enough to Work: Every single plan Red Mage has ever come up with. Occasionally they do.
- Fighter's tend to work the same way. Emphasis on the work part.
- Creative Sterility: Elves.
- Crippling Overspecialization: Most of Sarda's spells are designed to only work with a specific target in mind. Subverted, because this was used in order to prevent Blue Mages from using his spells against him. Played straight by Black Mage, who by way of Mega Manning has learned "Spell that hurts Black Mage" and the "rewrite reality according to my (Sarda's) whim" spell.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Fighter is dumber than a bag of rocks, but he's also a practically unstoppable swordsman.
- And Bikke, useless though he may be at piracy and villainy, is the first person in the comic to actually hit Sarda with an attack. A useless attack, granted, but it impressed Sarda enough to spare him...for now.
- Crowded Cast Shot
- Crunchtastic: Black Mage once concluded that his hatred of Fighter is so great that there is no word strong enough to express it. So - with Red Mage's help - he made up a new one: omniloathe. Obviously Fighter missed the point and was overjoyed that he and Black Mage had "got best buddy codewords now".
- Crush! Kill! Destroy!: Crap! Piss! Kill!
Red Mage: Tell me that's not a declaration of intent.
- Curb Stomp Battle: Light Warriors vs. Kary's minions. Later Black Mage vs. M.A.R.T.A.N.s and even later Black Mage vs. four Fiends.
- Cutting the Knot: "My brain said this was faster."
- Cycle of Revenge The Light Warriors go after Sarda for torturing them, who's after the Light Warriors because Black Mage ruined his childhood, and Black Mage likely commits his acts of evil because the universe hates him, which is frequently due to Sarda's influence, who tortures Black Mage because of the aforementioned ruined childhood, and so on. A very literal cycle, considering Sarda is "stuck" in a Stable Time Loop.
- Damsel in Distress: Averted. The damsel in question has been distressed so many times, she's picked up a few things, and helps her captor.
- Dark Is Not Evil: The Dark Warriors are much less of a threat to the world than their counterparts. (As much as Garland tries, he's really too much of a softie for true villainy.)
- Deadpan Snarker: when Black Mage isn't in a state of temporary insanity , he is incredibly snarky and sarcastic, particularly about the frequent flaws in logic and common sense that all the other "Light Warriors" seem oblivious to . And the more he gets annoyed and frustrated, the more bloodthirsty and less clever he gets. So you know when Fighter makes a cleverer quip than Black Mage that there is going to be a lot of destroyed realestate in his vicinity.
- Death Seeker: Following Black Mage's takeover of hell, and hell subsequently kicking him out, he's very happy whenever he's about to die because he knows he'll be able to take over hell again.
- Defictionalization: Real-life Sword Chucks.
- Department of Redundancy Department: "Meanwhile, in the royal room of royalty..."
- Destructive Saviour: That is, when they're saving. Which is quite rare these days.
- Detectives Follow Footprints: Fighter shows off his tracking skills by describing the footprints he's following. They're his and Black Mage's own trail.
- The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: Sarda uses what he refers to as your typical "rewrite reality according to your will" spell. When Black Mage copies it, it turns out to be a "rewrite reality according to Sarda's will" spell instead.
- Also, when Sarda makes Black Mage puke his own intestines out, BM tries to cast the spell back at Sarda. It turns out that Sarda created a spell with the specific description of "Make Black Mage puke his guts out".
- Diabolus Ex Machina: Personified in Sarda.
- Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?: Thief outwitting a trickster god.
- Distracting Disambiguation
- The Ditz: King Steve. Bikke, too. Fighter is a subversion in that he's actually the most effective and competent of the Light Warriors.
King Steve: "Now, how about those sno-cones."
- Divided We Fall
- Don't Explain the Joke: Red Mage does this a lot when no one laughs at his jokes. Of course, this just makes things worse...
- Doomy Dooms of Doom: Apparently, Doom comes in Light Doom, Greater Doom, and All The Dooms Of The Rainbow.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: The Other Warriors
- Dual-Wielding: Fighter and Drizz'l. Then taken to ludicrous extremes when Fighter begins quadruple-wielding through sword-chucks. Scary part is, it works.
- That's nothing. Ranger can quad-wield bows, to fire twelve arrows at the same time!
- Considering he was wielding them against Sarda, it didn't help.
- That's nothing. Ranger can quad-wield bows, to fire twelve arrows at the same time!
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Invoked by Thief in this strip.
Red Mage: This is why I keep insisting that Thief shouldn't conduct these interviews.
- Dumbass Has a Point: Every so often, Fighter will say something genuinely insightful.
- Dumb Is Good: Fighter. Or rather "Dumb isn't insanely selfish, violent, or insane", in this case.
- Dungeon Bypass: Black Mage once completed the obstacle course consisting of four hundred bearded trials of strength with a single Hadoken.
Black Mage: Obstacle course? Mo' like Ka-Boom course.
- Dysfunction Junction: From the man himself: "I'm not sure why the Light Warriors worry about obstacles or monsters standing in their way. They are nothing compared to the obstacles and monsters within the party."
- Early-Bird Cameo: Episode 300 shows the party after they've changed class, something they wouldn't do for more than 300 more comics. The picture of the Light Warriors at the top of this page is the panel from said comic that the cameo occurs in.
- Eat Me: Unintentionally done by Red Mage to Kraken.
- Eldritch Abomination: Ur and the Eye-stalk.
- Elves vs. Dwarves: Thief despises dwarves even more than everyone else, which makes his rampaging march through their kingdom much more enjoyable.
- Emo Teen: Vilbert.
- The End of the World as We Know It: One of the comic's fake endings. It's also the ultimate goal of Black Mage and, apparently, of Chaos as well.
- Epic Fail:
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Parodied, since the Light Warriors' original classes are their real names, and remain so even after they change classes.
- Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: In-universe example - In the Castle of Ordeals, each character fought a personification of his greatest flaws, symbolically overcoming them (or at least, that's what they were supposed to do...). The final ordeal was to symbolize the team uniting to become more than the sum of their parts and transcend individuality and whatnot. When the final ordeal turns out to be "defeating a zombie dragon," Red Mage complains that the boss doesn't fit the theme.
Red Mage:I fail to see the significance of a zombified dragon vis-a-vis our externalized struggles with our own internal demons.
- Evil Chancellor: "It's an Elven court. They're all Viziers and they're all assholes."
- Evil Laugh: Sarda's "muhuhaha".
- He pulls off an absolutely epic one here.
- Evil Mentor: Sarda.
- Evil Sorcerer: Black Mage
- Evil Versus Evil:
- Eye Beams: Used by Black Mage to annihilate one of the Dwarves' cities (and to piss off Red Mage).
- He also uses them to destroy Fighters dreams here.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Used for humor, especially with character names. The four protagonists most obviously, but also Doctor Malpractice, Chancellor Usurper, and many others...
- Expy: Chaos is a transdimensional, extratemporal Lovecraftian horror that emerges from Sarda's head and threatens to undo the universe, just like the Shadow from Beyond Time in Clevinger's own Atomic Robo.
- Face Heel Turn: Black Mage has attempted to team up with antagonists five times throughout the story, though as he points out, "that'd imply there existed a time I wasn't on team Evil."
- Facing the Bullets One-Liner: Thief: "My only regret is that I didn't hate you more."
- Also, Onion Kid, being faced by a barrage of arrows. "Guess I ran out of parents."
- Fandom Nod: Arguably, a certain Nintendo Power issue mentioned in the entries for Brick Joke and Call Back. That strategy guide suggested trying to beat Final Fantasy I with four unpromoted White Mages, as one of the first Self Imposed Challenges in modern video gaming (and one that's still famous among old-school Final Fantasy fans).
- Fan Fiction: A Final Fantasy fanfic no less.
- Fake Ultimate Hero: Zig Zagged with. Black Mage, Thief, and Red Mage were pretending to take the credit for destroying Chaos, so in order to prevent that White Mage set up the Dark Warriors as "The very real Light Warriors"
- Fastball Special: The Fighterdoken attack.
- As well as Fighter's Medoken. However that works.
- Fate Worse Than Death: Sarda's pretty much decided that killing the Light Warriors over and over again isn't as fun after dozens of times. So he's pretty much decided to just let them do whatever they want and only make life miserable for them when he's bored. This is subverted, however, because the Light Warriors actually prefer it to certain death.
- Also, Chaos' plan for the world is to lock everyone in the plane of eternal torment between the worlds. Which, due to Sarda and White Mage's time traveling, would create a paradox where the universe will never have came into being. Chaos apparently wants both to happen, somehow.
- Also, Berserker's fate and presumably Cleric and Rogue's unknown fates.
Cleric: What does that mean?
- Feigning Intelligence: Red Mage has degrees in "escapology" and "escaponomy". Both are in his handwriting. Doesn't mean they're not degrees though!
- In an earlier strip Red Mage and Black Belt pretended to know anything about repairing airships.
- Final Boss: Although it's revealed that the Light Warriors are the worst thing in the world, Chaos.
- Flanderization: Black Mage used to be at least selective about what he stabbed and/or nuked. Now he just kills everything at all times. Also, Fighter has gotten considerably dumber over the years, where he was once just kind and easy to trick in the early comics. However, given the number of times he's been stabbed in the head, this might technically count as Character Development.
- Also, Red Mage's cross dressing and "animal husbandry" have become the butt of jokes centered around him.
- Flat What: Black Mage and Sarda use this more often than the rest of the cast. And once more by Lich, after Black Mage's Not Now, Kiddo moment.
- Fluffy the Terrible: The "parrot" (dragon) Muffin.
- Forgot to Feed the Monster: Bikke's pirate crew and Thief's Lawninja all suffer from the neglect of their masters.
- Four Is Death: The Four Fiends, though this could be applied to the Light Warriors themselves.
- Forbidden Chekhov's Gun: Red Mage's Ice-9 spell takes away all the heat in the universe. It's cast inside a Bag of Holding that he's just stuffed Kary into (along with all the riches that Thief stole), theoretically putting her on ice until the Light Warriors have sufficently leveled up. However...
Red Mage: We've locked Kary in an inescapable prison where she will remain until such time as we are powerful enough to defeat her. Quite simple.
- Foreshadowing: Episode 434. Five years later...
- Remember the original task the Light Warriors were given? Well, 1119 chapters later...
- Another, slightly more subtle, example...Red Mage sure is smart.
- Franchise Zombie
- Freaky Fashion, Mild Mind: Garland, possibly Vilbert.
- From a Certain Point of View: Any claim that Brian Clevinger isn't a Lying Creator hinges on these. Just see the justifications below.
- Funny Background Event: Used a few times. There is, for example, Black Mage trying to ask White Mage out in the second half of this strip or Red Mage's battle with dragon in this one.
- Gainax Ending: Faked.
- Gambit Pileup: The second Temple of Fiends arc.
- Genius Ditz: Arguably Red Mage, who, despite being obsessive about stats and whatnot, occasionally makes good (enough) plans. Fighter might be too, since he has a Bachelor's degree in dead, completely overcomplicated languages (not verbatim).
- Genre Savvy: Thief to some extent. His attempt at using the Theory of Narrative Causality to blackmail Muffin, for example.
- GIS Syndrome
- Glass Cannon: Black Mage is one of these, and in one comic refers to himself with that exact phrase, before getting a little weird with the metaphor.
- Goldfish Poop Gang: A rare real-life example — if the Con Recap news posts are to be believed (from all three parties), then Clevinger, Tim Buckley and Michael "Mookie" Terracciano have all the trappings of one.
- Go Mad From the Revelation: Surprisingly invoked on Chaos of all people, when White Mage points out that a universe completely ruled by entropy would be as dull and boring as a world completely ruled by order.
Black Mage: Oh, god. Now I'm ejecting things I haven't eaten yet.
- Good Angel, Bad Angel: Parodied - when Black Mage faces a moral dilemma (whether he should let Fighter die or let Fighter die and destroy all of reality in the meantime) two miniature versions of himself that appear represent his evil side... and his atrociously evil side. (The distinction blurs a little more every day, though.)
- Gory Discretion Shot: When any huge explosions or impacts occur, the panel in which they would happen is replaced with stock photos of nuclear blasts (or in one case, of an asteroid impact). Also, when BM solves problems through stabbity means, all we see is blood splattered on the fourth wall. Both are hilarious when you actually see them.
- Groin Attack: "Inna NERTS!"
- Grandfather Clause: Like Bob and George, only in regards to Final Fantasy I
- Hand Blast: Black Mage's blasts.
- Harmless Villain: The Dark Warriors.
- Healing Shiv: The Trope Namer; Cleric used one to bring Thief back from the brink of death.
- Heel Face Turn: Drizz'l briefly joins the Light Warriors, although this is due more to frustration with the Dark Warriors' incompetence and being voted off than a change in morality. Then again, the Light Warriors are not exactly pillars of morality. In fact, when Black Mage was on their team, the Light Warriors were more evil than the Dark Warriors.
- Princess Sara is arguably an example of this, at one point taking over her own kidnapping and trying to help Garland dispose of the Light Warriors, who have come to rescue her. However, after Garland is defeated, she returns to her previous life and does not continue to pursue the evil path to any noticeable degree.
- Heel Realization: The Light Warriors persist in believing they're heroes until Sarda finally clues them in on the truth.
- Jammed in their faces again (although they still don't realize it).
- Heh, Heh, You Said "X": "That's enough boobery for now."
- Earlier; "You mean booby traps." "Heh heh..." "Oh, real mature, man!"
- Hell Seeker: Black Mage wants to get to Hell to rule it. He succeeds... for a very brief time. Once he gets returned to mortality he tries to dig his way back.
- Heroes Want Redheads: White Mage - although Black Mage isn't much of a hero. Also, White Mage seems to have a thing for Fighter, who is also red haired.
- Heroic BSOD: Black Mage after watching Fighter use his new "Wood-in-steak".
Red Mage: Years of exposure to Fighter's, shall we say, point of view, has rendered Black Mage a sputtering vegetable.
- Heroic Sociopath: Black Mage; Red Mage and Thief to a lesser extent (although not that much less).
- Highly-Visible Ninja: Thief's law ninja, who wear bright red.
- But not Thief himself, who has never worn red or imagined himself as a ninja wearing red.
- High-Pressure Blood: Violent spurts of red liquid are the usual bleeding.
- Hired Sword and Occult Magic: Black Mage's comment in this strip implies that this is what he and Fighter were before the events of the comic.
- Holding Out for a Hero: Discussed.
- Honest John's Dealership: Used straight by Akbar, totally subverted by Jeff.
- Horrible Judge of Character: Fighter.
Fighter: We're heroes.
- Hybrid Monster
- Hyperspace Mallet: The Weapon of Choice of White Mage, used when Black Mage (or Kary) sufficently pisses her off.
- Ignored Enemy: "You shut the goddamn hell up, super-monsters."
- Ignored Epiphany: Black Mage has had a few, this being the most notable. Later, he becomes Dangerously Genre Savvy enough to fake having an Epiphany.
- I Like Swords: The Index Namer.
- Illogical Safe: Played with, only with an armoire instead of a safe falling on Fighter. Fighter emerges from the middle of it and Red Mage launches a convoluted explanation that states that Fighter survived because his knowledge of Cartoon Physics warped reality itself. Then Fighter reveals that the bottom just was cheap particle board.
- Impossible Thief: Thief can steal anything that's not on fire and nailed down at the same time. Emphasis "and" and "anything."
Thief: I've stolen things that weren't even there. This soul exists, so that helps.
- Impossibly Cool Weapon: The sword-chucks are impossible, even in this world.
- Not anymore.
- Holy crap, the sword-chucks are ON FIRE. That's oneupmanship for ya.
- Not anymore.
- Improbable Weapon User: Fighter has his Sword-Chucks, and no less than four swords on his person at any given time. And then there's this line:
Fighter: "You try balancing a cow on the end of a fence post to wield it like a club. That's a physical damn challenge!"
- Incredibly Lame Pun: Fighter searches for the Armor of Invincibility and ends up with the Armoire of Invincibility by mistake.
- Fighter likes to play Breakout.
- Actually, it was supposed to be Arkanoid.
- "He must be in Ur base. Killing all Ur dudes." (Word of God states that the character was named Ur just for the sake of that joke.)
- "I couldn't bear my role in it."
- Because he's a vampire, the only way to kill Vilbert is with a wooden stake through the heart. Fighter proceeds to rip one of the posts off of a wooden fence, impale a cow on it, and then burn it to a crisp. Why? Because he now has wood in steak. It's worth noting that the pun is so lame it actually causes Black Mage to go temporarily insane.
- After deciding to break the three Light Warriors who aren't Black Mage out of their icy prison, Drizz'l comes up with an idea that he knows he'll hate himself for after it works. He tells this joke: "How do you get 200 Canadians out of the pool? [[[Beat]]] Say 'Please get out of the pool.'" The ice shatters and Thief asks what he just did. "I...broke the ice..."
- Fighter likes to play Breakout.
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Drizz'l.
- Infernal Retaliation: The
crime bosslegitimate businessman encountered by Light Warriors after they became "a city guard" had a rather delayed reaction to being set on fire.
- Informed Attractiveness: White Mage (thanks to it being a sprite comic, of course) although there was an attempt to show it when she was first introduced.
- We see her in the epilogue. She's quite cute.
- And stacked. It takes the last strip to show what Black Mage was talking about. Easily seen when White Mage is walking with Thief.
- There's also a wallpaper with a picture of her drawn by Matt Speroni, who also drew the aforementioned epilogue, and approved by Clevinger.
- We see her in the epilogue. She's quite cute.
- Innocent Innuendo: Red Mage seems to be able to make anything sound like a double entendre.
- Insane Troll Logic: Almost every plan that Red Mage makes up runs solely on this. He has once claimed that his plans were more likely to succeed, due to the fact that they were less logical, and thus, logic wouldn't screw them up. You can't unread that.
- Instant Chucks: Sword Chucks
- Insult Backfire: Clevinger, in keeping with his philosophy that the best joke is the one on the reader, wrote a comic that ended with the entire strip All Just a Dream, as a fake No Ending. Rather than the cavalcade of abuse he expected from pissed-off readers, he got fan mail complementing him on writing the perfect ending for his comic! Needless to say, he was peeved that his master plan was ruined by kindness.
Black Mage: Yo.
- Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence + An Economy Is You: in strip 1201, "These are the prices and like a fence or short hedge, there is nothing you can do to get around that."
- Interspecies Romance: Bahamut and Matoya, Ranger's complex heritage.
Fighter: So that's where earthquakes come from.
- In the Local Tongue: Drizz'l is mocked for his goofy-sounding name, but they shut up when they find out it means "endless scourge."
- Ironic Echo Cut: 
- Ironic Hell: After being severely beaten by Berserker, Thief ends up in his personal Hell where he owns everything. Thief is overjoyed... until a trickster god called Raven points out to him that there's nothing left to steal in this Hell. Realizing that, Thief starts begging the god to revive him. However, it's revealed later that Thief didn't actually die - Berserker only knocked him unconscious - and his personal Hell was probably an illusion created by Raven who wanted to take advantage of Thief's desperation.
- The real hell too.
Head Hell Guy: This is hell. We're big on irony here.
- Iron Butt Monkey: Fighter and Black Mage — the former is repeatedly stabbed in the head with no ill effects (it made him smarter once), while Black Mage more or less always survives what's thrown at him (the Goblin Punch and Australia come to mind) and when he's killed, he gets brought back in fairly short order so as to continue suffering.
- It Got Worse: First, turns out Sarda is the Onion Kid, and he's had billions of years to think up things to do to the Light Warriors for ruining his life. Then he gets even more powerful . Then he gets possessed by Chaos.
- Its Always Sunny in Miami: This trope is used in this work, as it never gets dark until the characters enter the inn.
- I Will Show You X: In this strip.
Sarda: That's adorable, really.
- Jerkass: Thief, Black Mage, Sarda.
- Jossed: Silenced all the Epileptic Trees regarding Black Belt's possible return with the appropriately titled, "Now Shut Up".
- Karma Houdini: The Light Warriors (especially Black Mage), after all the atrocities they commit, ultimately escape any kind of punishment. The only upside is that White Mage keeps them from stealing the credit for all the good things they DIDN'T do... by making sure it goes to the Dark Warriors.
- Well Black Mage seems to be destined to forever wander the world with Fighter, who he hates, but can't kill or otherwise get rid of in any way.
- Plus, Sarda de-leveled them all, so none of them have the skills they used to terrorize the world before.
- Well Black Mage seems to be destined to forever wander the world with Fighter, who he hates, but can't kill or otherwise get rid of in any way.
- Kid with the Leash: surprisingly enough, this trope is applied to Thief and Black Mage. Black Mage is a violent sociopath easily able to cause ridiculous amounts of mass-destruction, and whose gut reaction to any situation is a cross of Kill'Em All and Kill It with Fire. Thief may be a Manipulative Bastard whose idea of morality is as flexible and self-rewarding as any one of his contracts, but at least he can control (or at least direct) a lot of Black Mage's indiscriminate destruction. If he's not there to lead the group, Black Mage tends to take charge and things tend to go downhill pretty damn quick. The fact that Thief can contain Black Mage using a fraudulent contract is a mark of Magnificent Bastardry.
- Kill It with Fire: The Light Warriors' solution to most anything, really.
- While looking for excuses to kill dwarves-
Thief Beard-shaped parasites are eating thier faces!
- Killed Off for Real: Black Belt.
- Kleptomaniac Hero: Thief will steal everything from your house regardless if it's nailed down or not.
- Knight of Cerebus: Black Mage, having subsumed the power of the Elemental Fiends and now since killed White Mage and possibly Fighter and Thief.
- Now since knocked off his horse thanks to Sarda intervening.
- Lampshade Hanging: Lots of it.
- Last of His Kind: Red Mage and Dragoon.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Black Mage and Fighter in this strip.
- Letter Motif
- Level Grinding: After being deleveled by Sarda, the Light Warriors must engage in a frenzy of this in order to (maybe) stand a chance against Chaos
- Ley Line: Mentioned as running through the land. It is stated that Black Mage is a living Nexus.
- It's not just that Black Mage is a living Nexus personified, but that apparently his mind/soul itself is the Nexus, such that his physical body acts as a Restraining Bolt. Hence when he dies and gets rid of his physical body, his powers increase (vis a vis RULING OVER HELL). He is not happy that the universe is trying its very hardest to keep him alive (probably so he doesn't end all creation.)
- Light Is Not Good: For a group of "heroes" called "The Light Warriors", they are probably the world's greatest mortal perpetrators of atrocities. Sarda flat out tells them this. Then again, the Light Warriors only got the title by tricking King Steve with their "Orbs of Destiny", which were in fact light bulbs, and the Real Light Warriors were unable to find a job.
- Lightning Can Do Anything: Including making fighter smart.
Thief: "I think you stabbed the stupid out of him."
- Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Although by the 1000 comic mark, Fighter can block anything in creation (including fire and the ground) and Thief can steal anything in creation, they still aren't anywhere near matching the raw destructive power that Black Mage has access to. Red Mage is a special case because although he can instantly mimic Black Mage's attacks when they are used on him (for about 30 seconds afterwards), his wizarding skills in general are not geared towards brute force but practicality (well, what he thinks of as practicality). The best example of this trope, though, is Sarda, who gets phenomenally more powerful the older he gets. Anyone even want to know what Black Mage and Red Mage are going to be capable of if they exist that long?
- Living Crashpad: "You're standing on my kidneys..."
- Logic Bomb: Red Mage uses one to kill a dinosaur. He tries it again while confronting his own Hubris, but it doesn't take.
- MacGyvering: We'll never know how he did it, but Red Mage saved the day with a portable hole, an immovable rod, a bag of holding, and an ice spell.
- Made From Real Girl Scouts: The Giant Cannon.
- Made of Explodium: this strip. Lampshaded brilliantly by Black Mage.
- Made of Evil/Evil God: Black Mage. You can't really describe him as anything else other than the Elemental Embodiment of Evil. When he goes to the Castle of Ordeals, each warrior has to face the physical embodiment of their worst flaws in order to overcome them. Black Mage's physical manifestation is himself. Because there is nothing more evil out there. However, when he keeps remembering the increasingly evil things he has done, the manifestation starts to shake reality. See here and the comic before it.
- Magic A Is Magic A: If Sarda devises a spell to hurt you, he devises a spell to hurt you, as demonstrated by Black Mage several times.
- Me's a Crowd: "I was right that didn't make sense.
- Meaningful Name: Other than Black Mage's last name, Evilwizardington, there are characters with names like Chancellor Usurper and Doctor Malpractice.
- Just about everyone's last name.
- Medieval Stasis: The Elves, as pointed out by Red Mage despite having a 9,000 year start are at the same technology level as humans. Thief, at a loss for a proper explanation tells them that they like it that way.
- Medium Awareness
- Mega Manning: Black Mage becomes a blue mage, gaining the ability to use the powers of those that attack him. Unfortunately, the only spells he actually learned this way were: 1) a spell to make the target puke his guts out (except the target is hard-wired to Black Mage); 2) a spell to let Sarda rewrite reality; and 3) a "spell" that allows him to kick people in the nuts.
- Metaphorgotten: Used constantly. Especially for Black Mage, whose metaphors tend to take very disturbing turns.
- Mind Rape: "So, was that a goat or...?" "Y'know, I've never asked."
- Mix-and-Match Critters: "I'm sorry, no I won't take it. If we accept orc zombies, then we open the gate to all kinds of crap. What's next? Centaur dragons? How about demon fairies? Maybe buffalo elves? Heck, why not whale vultures?"
- Mood Whiplash: Compared to both preceding and succeeding strips, the strip about Black Belt's (first) death is surprisingly serious.
- Multishot: Parodied by ranger.
- Munchkin: Red Mage.
- Mundane Utility: parodied and played straight at different times. Mostly with Black Mage's ridiculously powerful magic.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Fighter, of course.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: If Sarda hadn't resurrected Black Mage's victims after his rampage, then the actual ending of the comic could never have happened.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Fighter's idea of combining swords and nunchucks.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Earlier strips had King Steve serving as a George W. Bush parallel, though done in an extremely over the top Strawman representation (drilling for Mana in wildlife preserves, father also a ruler, bit of a warmonger, and low popularity).
- The "father also a ruler" part is justified. He's a KING.
- Though, ironically, King Steve himself doesn't know that.
- The "father also a ruler" part is justified. He's a KING.
- No Fourth Wall: In this strip, the Light Warriors can see themselves as in the comic. Even Black Mage comments on something he says at a later point.
- Red Mage often leans very heavily on the Fourth Wall. Considering he's a Munchkin this isn't much of a surprise (his entire order lives on the basis of manipulating the Fourth Wall). When he does say something with a meta-context expect Black Mage (if he's currently not in possession of the Insanity Ball and trying to kill everything in sight) to remark on it with either suspicion or frustration.
- No Kill Like Overkill: Black Mage. He likes summoning the raw powers of the universe to do his bidding (apparently). This usually comes (also apparently) with a malleable sense of scale... as in "off of the".
- Nominal Heroes: The Light Warriors.
Red Mage: According to a loose enough definition of 'hero', we qualify. Well, more or less. The point is that good deeds were done and we were nearby.
- Non Sequitur Thud: Black Mage in this strip.
- Noodle Incident, Noodle Implements: Using (up) a portable hole, an immovable rod, a bag of holding, and an ice spell to escape from an exploding Deathtrap, then in the same strip requiring a portable hole, an immovable rod, a bag of holding, and an ice spell to get Black Mage out from under a Giant.
- In the Field of Battle series, "I have no idea what that means, and that only makes it worse."
- "Because you weren't here when White Mage, Priest, Shaman, and Healer KILLED Chaos."
- "Oh goddammit it."
- No One Could Survive That: Basically said in more words by Red Mage in 1167. Of course, Sarda survived.
- No One Should Survive That: Fighter, all the time (much to Black Mage's chagrin). So much that the other Light Warriors count on him somehow being able to survive random situations.
- Black Mage also qualifies. Among other examples, Sarda dropped Australia on him and he survived.
Red Mage: Where's he going?
- Qualifies as an Incredibly Lame Pun, since he is sent to Hurt, Australia.
- Don't forget when Sarda locked Black Mage perfectly still while the rest of the universe kept moving, shifting him outside the cave. Of course, all the other molecules kept moving and shredded him at a sub-cellular level, but Sarda kept him alive out of spite.
Black Mage: Huh. I think I'm insane now.
- Normally I Would Be Dead Now: Red Mage subverts this by being not a Determinator, but by forgetting to record how much damage he takes.
- No Sense of Direction: Black Belt, and to a lesser extent, Fighter.
- Not Now, Kiddo: Black Mage is guilty of this on several occasions. A few times to Fighter, but once to Lich, while he and the rest of BM's party discussed the plan to kill Lich's son, Vilbert. Right in front of Lich. And Black Mage didn't even bother to look at Lich while he said that.
- Not the Fall That Kills You: Done in one of the weirdest ways possible.
Fighter: The way I figured it, the fall doesn't kill you. The ground does. So I blocked it.
- Number of the Beast: "Tonight's Lottery Numbers are 6-1-6!"
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Garland is clearly an idiot. Right?
- Ocean Madness: Played with.
- Odd Name Out: During the Disguised in Drag scenario, the Light Warriors went by the names of Thiefica, Fighterina, Black Magia, and... Debora.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: An intentional Double Subversion. The climactic fight with Chaos is shown offpanel to keep the identity of who defeated him secret as long as possible. Then comes a Flash Back sequence in which we see that scene, only to have the battle skipped over a second time.
- Oh Crap: The look on Sarda's face just before undergoing Phlebotinum Overload is priceless.
- Also the look on Black Mage's face when he discovers that "Muffin", Dragoon's "parrot", is actually a dragon. Extra points for Fighter and Thief completely ignoring what's right behind them.
- According to White Mage, here's what happened after Black Mage became the ruler of hell and gained limitless power:
White Mage: Did you feel that?
- Older Than They Look: Vilbert and, of course, all elven characters.
- Omnicidal Maniac: Black Mage always did want to be ruler of a dead universe. However, he never showed he actually had the power to pull it off until late in the comic.
- One-Winged Angel: Sarda might have just done this, but that could just be his real face.
- Only a Flesh Wound: Black Mage stabs his comrades, usually in the head, and they always survive.
- Subverted when Black Mage actually kills Ranger this way, and gloats over it as his previous victims survived. Of course, he is then resurrected by his friend Cleric.
- Black Mage regularly survives injuries such as losing his arms or being impaled by a spear, usually without proper healing.
- Pretty much everyone in the main cast, at one time or another, goes through this.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: apparently, the Onion Kid's real name is Rex Crockett (check left bottom corner).
- Clevinger said this isn't his real name. It was never revealed.
- Only Sane Man: White Mage. Black Mage is when he's holding the Sanity Ball (If you can call it that).
- Thief, Princess Sara, Left-Hand Man Gary, Drizz'l, and Rogue are this in their respective groups.
- Though among those listed above, only Left-Hand Man Gary has not shown overt signs of either willfully dangerous ignorance (White Mage and Rogue), Knight Templaric tendencies (White Mage again), Black and Gray Morality (Thief, Sara and Drizz'l), or sociopathic, psychopathic psychosis (need you even ask).
- Sarda might also count, since he's one of the few who sees the Light Warriors and Fighter as the horrible threat to the world they actually are.
- When Black Mage isn't in an omnicidal rage, he is typically the Only Sane Man, and will point out flaws in logic, be the only voice of reason, and will even lean heavily against the fourth wall. However, whenever he is sane, one of the Light Warriors (usually) will do or say something stupid or frustrating, and there seems to be only a certain level of this he can take before he feels the "need to destroy." The stupider the idea (which happens to be proportional to the amount of participation Fighter has in its conception for some completely bizarre reason), the more likely he'll just snap all together. There's a slight problem when that happens...
- Thief, Princess Sara, Left-Hand Man Gary, Drizz'l, and Rogue are this in their respective groups.
- Orwellian Editor:Done as joke in the class change arc.
- To explain for those who missed the initial run of the strip: Thief's Ninja outfit is based on a red Ninja sprite from Final Fantasy III. In the original run of strip 200, and in the first run of the strip where he obtained the class change, Thief's outfit matched said sprite. One strip later, however, the outfit switched from red to black - Black Mage comments on it, but Thief only says that the outfit had always been black as a Logic Bomb. On the same day as the Logic Bomb joke, the previous strips were all edited to change the outfit from red to black.
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Clevinger satirizes the living hell out of this trope.
- Our Elves Are Better: Played for laughs.
- Overly Pre-Prepared Gag: The comic's biggest Brick Joke.
- Padding: How the hell else do you extend Final Fantasy I to over 1,200 comic strips?
- Perp Sweating: Parodied. When Red Mage "interrogated" Bikke, the pirate claimed he didn't steal Matoya's crystal. Red Mage simply replied: "No? Or... Yes?". Confused Bikke immediately incriminated himself (and accused Red Mage of using "black ops mind games".)
Bikke: I just wanted to feel like a big evil man! Is that really so wrong?
- Person of Mass Destruction: Black Mage.
- Sarda as well. Who falls under A God Am I.
- Pet the Dog: Black Mage's letter to White Mage in which he apologizes for being a Jerkass and tries to comfort her after Black Belt's death definitely qualifies as one of these moments. Obviously, that only proves that one can pet the dog once or a few times and still be irredeemably evil.
Look, I don't do this... Uh, ever. But you guys are basically like kittens stuck on a leaking lifeboat in a typhoon. Just run.
- And he gave Fighter candy.
- Well, he gave Black Mage candy too. He just happened to place the candy in Black Mage's lungs
- Phlebotinum Overload: This appears to happen to Sarda, after he absorbs the power of the Orbs, the Fiends, and Black Mage's Super-Powered Evil Side. As it turns out, he's still alive, though not quite himself.
- Pillar of Light: When Sarda explodes.
- Please Wake Up
- Poke the Poodle: White Mage's attempt at a Face Heel Turn results in this.
- Garland is this trope.
- Powered by a Forsaken Child: Black Mage sacrificed nine orphans to get the Hadoken. And that's not counting the orphans he sacrificed for fun.
- The Power of Love: Subverted, as Black Mage's most destructive attack is powered by draining love from the universe.
- Precision F-Strike: Upon their first visit to the New Temple of Fiends:
Thief: "I hate wizards."
- Red Mage then waits an hour for Thief to say it.
- Puff of Logic: At first subverted, then played straight.
- Punctuation Shaker: Drizz'l, the Cultists with names such as Mrr'grt and L'zlhe, pronounced "Margret" and "Leslie".
- Punny Name: The names of the two elven clans, Khee'bler and Sahn'ta.
- Quirky Miniboss Squad: All 4 Dark Warriors are based on or take the place of actual minibosses from the source material, and they are very quirky.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Red Mage: We're a roving band of armed misfits looking for something to do, and we thought you might fit the bill." The woman he's talking to thinks they're going to gang-rape her. Then everyone but RM sees a newspaper saying that rape gangs are at large.
Red Mage: "I can't help but think the conversation would have ended differently had my pants stayed on."
- The Rashomon: Parodied in this strip.
- Read the Fine Print
- Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud: Black Mage invokes it for one of Red Mage's hated plans.
- Recurring Extra: Onion Kid, the little kid whose new family is constantly killed. Except he's far more than that.
- A better example would be the Real Light Warriors, a party who is supposed to be the actual destined Light Warriors but Missed the Call due to the main characters having taken the position while they were busy Level Grinding. Every so often we see them just a few steps behind the protagonists or having their lives made miserable due to their actions.
- Restart At Level One: Happens to the Light Warriors near the end of the comic.
Sarda: The irony is that there's not much left for me to do to you that you haven't already done to yourselves.
- Retcon: No, Thief's ninja outfit has always been black. Why would it be red? He's always imagined himself as classing into a black-clad ninja, not a red one. What do you mean "It was red when he first appeared in it"? Bah. You're as crazy and confused as Black Mage.
- Retconjuration: Sarda, when he's not being a straight-up Reality Warper.
- Ret-Gone: There was never a fifth Light Warrior named Bard.
- Role Playing Game Verse: The entire original plotline of the strip, not to mention Red Mage's constant stat references at the start of the series.'
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Unfortunately.
- RPG Mechanics Verse: This too, although for extra humor, exactly which RPG mechanics are in use in any given strip seems to vary according to the author's whim. D&D, Final Fantasy, Exalted, and Old World of Darkness rules have all been seen... and mocked.
- Rule of Funny
- Rule of Three: Onrac is destroyed by the actions of Sarda in response to Black Mage three times. Lampshaded with a sign outside the town saying "Where lightning never strikes thrice". Guess what happens.
- Running Gag: The guard chasing the hapless messenger. Who is still chasing him in the Epilogue. Three years later.
- Sarcasm Failure: Black Mage, usually when talking to Red Mage or Fighter for any length of time.
- Schedule Slip: Used to update every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 12:00 am without fail, but during the last few months of its run it updated those afternoons instead, or sometimes just skipped updates entirely.
- The epilogue took several weeks, due to its length and radically different art style.
- Schrodingers Cat
Thief: Observing an event helps to make it happen. Someone should develop a theory based on that.
- Screw Destiny: "OK, I have a theory. It's called, I NEVER KNEW IT WAS POSSIBLE TO CARE LESS ABOUT TIME TRAVEL." Cue the Dark Hadoken.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Black Mage attempts to do this, but Sarda rewrites his statement into satisfaction over an Anticlimax.
- Screw You, Elves: "If you elves are so great, why is your technology on par with humans even though you had a nine thousand year head start?"
- "Your race's history is one long love poem dedicated to bloodshed. And to yourselves."
- Screw Yourself: It's implied that Black Mage, after killing the manifestation of his evil (which happened to look exactly like him), used its corpse to turn self-love into atrocity. Then Thief managed to photograph the whole thing and blackmail BM with it.
- Self-Deprecation: Strip 1,000 was called "I can’t believe someone was asshole enough to make 1,000 sprite comics." Strip 1,001 was called "I can’t believe someone was asshole enough to make more than 1,000 sprite comics."
- Sense Loss Sadness: Black Mage after losing his position of hell king.
- Shaggy Dog Story: Pretty much every story arc. Not to mention the series as a whole.
- And just as readily subverted with all the horrible stuff that happens to the Onion Kid.
- Shout-Out: Several; see Shout Out: Web Comics for examples.
- A character dies, goes to Hell, takes it over, and comes back with the powers of an Evil God. Black Mage? No, the Emperor from Final Fantasy II.
- Silence, You Fool: Drizz'l, here.
- Spanner in the Works: Many examples, but the biggest one is Sarda, to himself. Sometime in the present, he teleports White Mage into a "pocket dimension" because she was annoying him. It turns out this "pocket dimesion" is actually the beginning of the universe... and a younger version of himself arrives there a few seconds too late to mold the universe to his will.
- He also probably didn't expect Black Mage's evil to cause him to suffer a Phlebotinum Overload — or that said overload would allow Chaos to possess his body. Not even gaining godlike power can prevent Black Mage from ruining Sarda's life.
- Stable Time Loop: Sarda is tortured by Black Mage as Onion Kid, is taken in by his older self, watches said older self try to get revenge on the Light Warriors, grows up to become a powerful mage, goes back in time to the origin of the universe, goes insane taking The Slow Path back to the present, decides to take revenge on the Light Warriors, repeat.
- And along the way, he sends White Mage to the beginning of time to keep her out of the way, where she creates the universe. Wrap your head around that predestination paradox.
- A smaller example: when they are at some weird space-time singularity, Thief has an idea to use the hundreds of instances of the Light Warriors to form an army. When Red Mage asks him how he got the idea, Thief says that he saw the future Red Mage doing it. Red Mage comments on the fact that he wouldn't have done it if Thief hadn't told him, and that Thief wouldn't have told him if he hadn't seen him doing it.
- A smaller-scale example: Sarda in the past got the idea to grow a mustache from White Mage, who got the idea from seeing Sarda with his mustache in the present day. So who came up with the idea in the first place?
- The Starscream: Black Mage repeatedly betrays the Light Warriors, and has tried to gain control of the group at least twice. Drizz'l, meanwhile, usurped Garland for all of a day before getting kicked out of the Dark Warriors.
- Strange Minds Think Alike: Lava instead of ground, ventilation rust-holes, cold fusion devices, explodable amnesia dust, "a stube"...the list goes on.
- Stuffed Into the Fridge: Viciously parodied with the fate of Ranger's wife.
- Stunned Silence: Black Mage has quite a few of these, usually accompanied by a Flat What when he's confronted with something so stupid or illogical that it renders him speechless. However, it has also happened when he has been simply horrified into stunned silence. There are few things so horrible that they can horrify Black Mage into silence. One of these things is Red Mage's choccobo breeding experiments. Black Mage even promises to devise a special hell just for what he's done.
- Stupid Sexy Flanders: Fighter thought that Legolas was cute.
- Stylistic Suck: The guest comic written by Fighter.
- Suckiness Is Painful: An Incredibly Lame Pun turns out to be fatal.
- Suddenly Fluent in Gibberish: Subverted. Fighter seems to have figured out the Lefanish language, but he still hasn't quite got the hang of it. Or has he?
- Surrounded by Idiots: Black Mage's temper and remaining sanity are continuously frayed by the rampant illogical insanity, stupidity and lack of all reason that tends to crop up in Red Mage's and Figther's vicinity (which isn't exactly conducive to the good health of the group). Thief also makes the same claim, but he gets far too much enjoyment out of screwing everyone out of everything they currently or will own, to be more than occasionally annoyed by the irrationality.
Black Mage: I shall die as I lived. Completely surrounded by morons.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: "No I am not undressing you with the power of my mind!"...and too many other examples to list them all.
- Shifty shopkeep Akbar makes it an art form.
- Fighter will often make completely innocent statements to this effect, often believing a far too specific lie that Black Mage has told him. See the below conversation for exhibit A, case in point.
Fighter: You told me Red Mage was dead.
- Black Mage also has a rather introspective one while he is the only one still stuck inside the web of a giant spider
Black Mage: They're the dumb ones, why am I still stuck here? I'm the smart, sassy one. My condescending demeanor certainly has nothing to do with a barely hidden anxiety about my actual worth as a person, a mage, or a member of this team. Stupid Fighter and stupid Red Mage and stupid Thief, makin' me introspective. I suppose it'll give me even more emotional turmoil to squeeze into a ball of seething rage focused at the center of my being.
- Sweat Drop: Appeared a few times in the early days of the comic.
- Take That: One strip consisted of little more than a pee joke and two characters being disturbed and disgusted by it. The strip's name? "VG Mages".
- From the epilogue, while Fighter and Black Mage are looking for a job:
Fighter: Here's one! They're recruiting for something called SOLDIER.
- Also from the epilogue, one can spot Cloud's buster sword and Squall's gun sword being peddled at Akbar's Not Useless Tools, alongside a bent pitchfork and a shovel with a hole in it.
- An earlier strip had Red Mage suggesting to distract Fighter by telling him to finish a race in 0:00 seconds, only for the latter to state that he's not THAT stupid.
- One to Final Fantasy X here; the reality of certain Final Fantasy sporting events.
- Episode 815: Try Our New All-Meat Salad is an extended Take That to the bizarre appetizers invented by American casual dining restaurants like T.G.I. Friday's and Applebee's.
- Ted Baxter: Black Mage, Red Mage, all Elves.
- Black Mage is an odd case. He admits straight out back in the beginning that he knows he's "vile" and evil. He's rather proud of it, in fact. He even knows that his one-liners are horrible and that he annoys White Mage into almost Unstoppable Rage. What's strange is that he thinks that is charismatic and appealing to women. So, this trope still applies as he thinks that he is the ultimate ladies' man. His idea of what that is is just really very...er... distorted.
- King Steve probably has an over-inflated image of himself as well. Seriously, if he thinks of himself that way...
- Tempting Fate: All over the place, but especially in the Temple of Fiends sequence.
Red Mage: Any fate that we can walk into because we're not dead is a better one than we had ten minutes ago.
- Leading to this:
Sarda: My plans will not be undone by such amateur-hour horseshit as absorbing too much power and exploding.
- This one is when they go to the submarine temple, after Black Mage has returned to the air-sub, with his whole digestive tract out of his body.
Thief: Well, that's the worst thing I'll ever see. (GSHLURRPLE! as Black Mage forces his digestive tract to re-enter his body) That's what I get for daring the universe.
- The Chosen Zero: Played with. The main characters aren't the real chosen ones, but they do (sort of) save the world, and the real chosen ones don't do anything important to the plot.
- Theme Naming: Khee'bler and Sahn'ta elves.
- Theory of Narrative Causality: Thief tries to invoke this trope in order to trick Muffin.
- This Cannot Be!: Sarda, here.
- This Is Gonna Suck:
Red Mage: Sarda de-leveled us, but we don't know how many levels we lost.
- Throw the Dog a Bone: White Mage, and possibly the entire world get thrown one when White Mage kills Chaos.
- And now it seems that, after countless failures and humiliations they suffered, Dark Warriors will get their happy ending because White Mage made everyone believe that they are real Light Warriors and that they saved the world.
- Token Good Teammate: Black Mage and Thief are a omnicidal maniac and a kleptomaniac, respectively. Red Mage is a fairly amoral Munchkin, though he did redeem himself a bit when he saved White Mage's life at (what would probably have been) the cost of his own. Fighter, although not too bright, is the only one who consistently displays a moral compass.
- Too Awesome to Use: Played straight by Red Mage constantly, then Lampshaded when he can't save Black Mage because he just used those items.
- Too Dumb to Live: Red Mage is the last of the Red Magi because they had a tendency to hold elaborate sacred meetings when other mages were out reproducing, combined with a nasty track record of killing each other/themselves in order to more accurately calculate the effects of spells and weapons on people.
- Completely subverted with Fighter. He's too dumb to die.
- Travel Montage: Parodied - Red Mage once used Travel Montage as an actual mean of transport. To Black Mage's confusion, it worked.
- Trickster Mentor: Sarda... with far more emphasis on the trickster part.
- Twenty Four of Your Earth Hours: The amount of time Chaos gives to Red Mage to complete his plan.
- Undead Author: The Cave of No Return.
- Unholy Nuke: Black Mage mentions that he gained his Hadoken Attack (essentially a all-purpose Nuke) through sacrificing children to his wanton gods of evil. This surprises no one.
- Unsound Effect: From "BOMBASTIC CLASSICAL MUSIC! Ominous Latin Chorus! Ominous Latin Chorus!" to "Orgy of Violence!" to "REALLY LOUD SUMMONING AND RUMBLE NOISES!", and many others besides.
- Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Lampshaded in this strip. Needless to say, the plan in question didn't work.
- Unstoppable Rage: Fighter went into this when Black Mage was killed by Lich.
- Up to Eleven: The Glorious Chainsaw Method.
- The description on that is hilarious: Make your swords become like things unto chainsaws.
- Use Your Head: "The main tactic of the Ram Form of Zodiackenshido is to break your opponent's equipment with your head before he breaks your head with his equipment."
- Villain with Good Publicity: Well, to the extent they can be considered villains, anyway, Garland and co. get this on episode 1224.
- Villain Protagonist: The Light Warriors. They are the story's official villains (except for Fighter).
- Violence Is the Only Option: "I solve my problems through violence"; all of the Light Warriors qualify at one point or another.
- Visual Pun: "I just checked the navigational log. A few things occur to me. One: this is not a very good ship."
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Fighter and Black Mage.
- Fighter is so consistently unaware of Black Mage's hate for him that it actually becomes a jaw-dropping plot point when Thief and Red Mage finally decide to kill Black Mage (for good reason), and Fighter stops them with:
...friends look out for one another and we're friends, but Black Mage is my best friend. Also, I can block any attack and kill anything that bleeds. Hint.
- Black Mage and Thief are another good example. Though the two often claim to hate one another (and have each proven it more than once), they also respect each other's evil ways, and have on occasion shown some great synergy. To wit, just check pretty much the entirety of the Dwarfland arc.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Black Mage is the king of this...usually projectile vomiting style. Thief's comment that he saw "darker wood in elf porn" made this happen spontaneously. His discovery of the true nature of Bahamut and Matoya's relationship and just what the Rat Tail was used for made him eject things he hadn't eaten yet.
- Wacky Wayside Tribe: The arcs involving a trip to the Arctic and another where the Light Warriors take control of a city.
- Walls of Text: Not all the time, but sometimes something like this happens.
- Weapons Grade Vocabulary: Lethal puns against Astos.
Black Mage: Astos? Mo' like your ass is toast.
- Web Animation: The official (Brian-approved) flash version by TLF. Discontinued, though the animators say anyone else is free to continue on from there.
- There's also a motion comic series on youtube, 8-Bit Theater Chaos, which is currently sitting happy at 52 episodes and six seasons, with consistent improvement as it goes on.
- Webcomic of the Game: Follows the plot of Final Fantasy I... kinda. The comic's contents often venture far outside the realm of the game, making this more of a "very loosely-inspired by" series rather than a faithful adaption.
- Welcome to Corneria: The Trope Namer.
- Wham! Episode: Insert a dead-baby-comedy euphemism for intercourse.
- What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: mentioned various times, either in naive stupidity by Fighter and Red Mage, or sarcastic snarkery by Black Mage. Thief can bring it up when the occasion arises though:
Thief [to Black Mage]: maybe you shouldn't be holding the keys to the apocalypse.
- Where Are They Now? Epilogue: Used as the last strip for the series. The strip picks up three years after the previous strip with White Mage tracking down the Light Warriors to give them some credit for all they did, Red Mage and Dragoon starting up a support group for sole survivors of mysterious sects, Thief becoming the king of Elfland through unknown means, and Black Mage and Fighter having disappeared, with no one knowing where they are (ironiclly we find out in the last scene that their right where they were at the start of the comic).
- It's also a very loving recreation of Mark Waid and Alex Ross' Kingdom Come, right down to the interesting names for the dishes at the restaurant.
- White Magician Girl: White Mage.
- Who's on First?: Rather literally, actually.
- Why Are You Looking At Me Like That?:
Red Mage: We're going about this whole Chaos thing the wrong way.
- With This Herring: Parodied.
- Word of God: Barry is the Red Wizard.
- The Worf Effect: Lampshaded. Black Mage is stated to suffer from this effect by Red Mage, referring to his use as a target by Dragoon.
- Writer Revolt: Why Black Belt was brought back and killed off a second time.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: Black Mage finally succeeded in killing Fighter and Thief and was about to do in Red Mage. Then Sarda showed up and brought them back to life.
- Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: Lampshaded in the sign that advertises the palace is looking for the Light Warriors.
- You Already Changed The Future: In dealing with White Mage, Sarda manages to cause the event he was trying to prevent.
- You Answered Your Own Question: Never ask "what the Hell is this?" after dying.
- You Can Verb My Noun Any Day: Black Mage to White Mage. Repeatedly. And without shame or remorse.
- You Fail Logic Forever: this strip is a wonderfully lampshaded example. See also Insane Troll Logic above.
- You Have 48 Hours: Chaos gives Light Warriors 24 hours to accomplish the goal of Red Mage's latest plan.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Chaos to Black Mage, apparently.
- You Killed My Father: And raped his mind. And burned down his orphanage. And killed his foster parents. And the second set of foster parents. And the third.
- They killed Astos, Drizz'l's father.
- You Were Trying Too Hard: The ordeal of Pride.
- You Will Be Spared: Upon being hit with the only successful (if ineffectual) attack on his person to date, Sarda says this to the perpetrator: "You're a quick thinker and spiteful. I can respect that. You won't be killed, Bikke."